What To Buy In Vietnam 2019: The Top 12 List

What To Buy In Vietnam 2019: The Top 12 List

Forget cute but impractical gifts from Vietnam! Here are some Vietnamese souvenirs and snacks that your friends will truly appreciate.

After spending your vacation traversing the land of Vietnam, enjoying its pristine beaches, serene villages and bustling cities, you’ll definitely find it hard to leave. How about bringing home some Vietnamese food and knick-knacks to ease the bittersweet ending? As much as you’re tempted to bring back one of the country’s iconic conical hats that’s a farmer’s best friend, it is not quite the practical gift.  Here are 12 things to buy from Vietnam that you and your loved ones will actually use:

1. Vietnamese instant noodles

Image credit: Andrea Nguyen

It’s no secret that Asians love their instant noodles. Although instant noodles are associated with typical Japanese and Taiwanese brands, don’t underestimate their Vietnamese counterparts! Vietnamese instant noodles come in a multitude of unique flavours which you can’t find anywhere else. They also offer instant rice vermicelli noodles, which are quintessentially Vietnamese. Some of the popular choices you have to bring home are Acecook Oh! Ricey Pork Flavour, Vifon Viet Cuisine Bun Rieu Cua Sour Crab Soup Instant Rice Vermicelli and MAMA Pho Bo Rice Noodles With Artificial Beef Flavour.

2. Handmade Vietnamese rice papers

Image credit: markdrasutis

Although you can easily get rice papers at the Asian section of any supermarkets back home, the traditional handmade rice paper in Vietnam undeniably tastes better! Making these humble Vietnamese staple is no easy feat. First, rice is ground until it forms a thick batter. Then, the batter is thinly spread on a cloth and steamed for about half a minute. Finally, the cooked rice sheet is transferred to a bamboo rack and left to dry under the hot sun for about a day.

Pro tip: Wrap up some meat and veggies in the rice paper and ta-dah, you have a delicious and healthy snack. Rice papers are also light, so it won’t take up much of your baggage weight!

3. Nuoc Cham sauce

Image credit: Marco Verch

Eating Vietnamese rice paper rolls without Nuoc Cham sauce should be a crime! Nuoc Cham is a dipping sauce for many Vietnamese dishes. There are many variations of Nuoc Cham sauce, but most are usually made with the base ingredients of lime, sugar, garlic, chilli and fish sauce. You can easily find bottled Nuoc Cham sauce at any market in Vietnam. Pair a bottle of Nuoc Cham sauce with the Vietnamese rice papers and you have a perfect souvenir set for your foodie friends.

4. Handmade shopper bags

Image credit: Franck THERIAUX

Now that it’s almost the musical festival season, these colourful hand-woven shopper bags are perfect to chuck your festival essentials in while still looking fabulous. Even outside the festival season, these shopper bags makes a practical souvenir for carrying your groceries or bringing snacks to the beach. Most of the bags found in Vietnam markets are made of bamboo and lined with a waterproof material. This makes it sturdier and is much easier to clean than cloth bags. With a variety of colours and patterns to choose from, there will definitely be a perfect bag even for your most picky fashionista friends!

5. Do paper products

Image credit: niftynotebook (left), niftynotebook (right)

Before the modern paper made its way to Vietnam, the traditional Do paper was used. Do you know what Do is? Do paper is made from the bark of the Rhamnoneuron balansae plant, more commonly known as the Do tree. The Do tree can be found on the riverbanks of northern Vietnam. Do paper is thicker and more durable than the paper we normally use in our daily lives. A bamboo-bound notebook made out of Do paper makes a lovely souvenir for your stationary obsessed or scrapbook-making pal.

6. Green rice cakes

Image credit: Phan Thành Đăng (left), Khương Việt Hà (right)

Green rice cakes, locally known as banh com, is a simple but tasty treat in Vietnam. The bright green bites are glutinous rice with a sugary mung bean paste or sweet coconut filling. Traditionally, the green rice cakes are eaten and sold by roving vendors during fall. However, nowadays you can easily find green rice cakes in many shops in Hanoi and other cities in Vietnam. The green rice cakes have been conveniently packaged in boxes so that the delicate treats won’t be damaged during your flight home.

7. Vietnamese coffee

Image credit: petenappa

Did you know that Vietnam is the second largest producer of coffee in the world after Brazil? However, instead of the usual Arabica beans found in most of our coffee, Vietnam mainly produces Robusta coffee, which has more caffeine compared to Arabica, which gives imparts a stronger bitter taste. Don’t forget to get a Vietnamese drip coffee filter, locally known as phin, when you’re purchasing Vietnamese coffee. Unlike its western counterparts, the phin is perfect to make single servings of coffee. Share your Vietnam adventures with your friends over a cup or two of freshly brewed Vietnamese coffee!

8. Vietnamese tea

Image credit: ePi.Longo

If you’re not a coffee drinker, don’t worry, Vietnam produces tea too! In fact, Vietnam is the fifth largest producer of tea in the world tea. One of Vietnam’s most unique teas is the artichoke tea. The artichoke is dried and infused into the tea, resulting in a deep-flavoured tea with grassy and nutty notes. Another of Vietnam’s unique teas is the jasmine and lotus tea. The green tea, infused with jasmine and lotus petals, is definitely a Vietnamese favourite. Just a heads up, you must only brew the tea for a couple of minutes or risk ending up with a bitter brew

9. Bamboo products

Image credit: Hans Braxmeier

Bamboo products are all the rage now thanks to the zero-waste movement gaining popularity in many parts of the world. Bamboo plantations have a low carbon footprint and their reusable products can help reduce plastic consumption. However, most zero-waste companies sell bamboo products at high marked up prices. When in Vietnam, you can get bamboo cutlery, bowls and plates at affordable prices. Stock up on your zero-waste essentials and bring some home as an eco-friendly souvenir!

10. Propaganda posters

Image credit: Kent MacElwee (left), albedo20 (right)

During the Vietnam war, propaganda posters were pasted on walls all over Ho Chi Minh City and other parts of northern Vietnam. Although these prints have mostly disappeared from the city walls, reproductions of the posters are sold in many art galleries in Hanoi. For a more wallet-friendly option, many shops sell postcards printed with eye-catching graphics and powerful imagery. Such postcards make a unique souvenir and hardly take up any space in your suitcase.

11. Pop-up cards

Is your friend’s birthday or your anniversary coming up? Kill two birds with one stone by getting an artistic pop-up card as a souvenir and a card for a special event! This is not your typical pop-up card. The pop-up cards, which can easily be found at various night markets around Vietnam, are incredibly intricate and beautiful. With designs such as ferris wheels and lotus flowers, there’s surely a pop-up card for any occasion.

12. Snake and scorpion wine

Image credit: Reinhard Silwar

Leaving (arguably) the best for last, snake or scorpion wine will definitely be a hair-raising souvenir for alcohol lovers! This spine chilling drink is very common in Vietnam, with it being sold in most markets around the country. A whole snake or scorpion, and sometimes both, is placed in a bottle of rice wine and left to steep for a few months. It is said that the wine helps to enhance a man’s virility and can help mitigate rheumatism. Although these claims have no scientific backing, it is still a unique blood-curdling souvenir that your friends will never forget.

Also read: Best Souvenirs to Take Home from Vietnam

The next time you’re heading to Vietnam, be sure to free up some luggage space. Your friends will definitely be expecting at least one of these twelve unique things in Vietnam (thanks to us)!

About Author

Sara Amira
Sara Amira

Sara’s passions in life are travelling, writing and eating. When she’s not in a window seat of a plane, she’s either cafe-hunting or exploring new neighbourhoods


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